Canal Fever

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Navigation's become such a trade,
That thousands who ne'er saw the ocean,
When projects are artfully laid,
Trip away at each favourite motion;
In person to fondly attend,
What jockey should not mount his poney,
And ride to the very Land's end,
Where the object is making of money?

Some people cried up Hampton Gay,
As prospects the greatest possessing,
The Grand Junction, 'tis clear, bears the sway,
And the mania still is increasing;
At Ell'smere, don't think I'm in jest,
Regardless of lodging or weather,
Of Land navigators at least,
Full a thousand assembled together.

To mortals who share common sense,
"Tis clear from this strong Canal Fever,
Whatever divines may advance,
Mankind are as sordid as ever;
Content e'en with those can't be had,
Who riches immense have been savin',
For spite of philosophy's aid,
The mind is continually craving.

From projects, no doubt, some there are
Who get themselves into a hobble;
The Glo'ster at present bids fair,
But the Bristol turned out a mere bubble;
The winners much artifice use,
The losers without affectation,
Say Christians can outdo the Jews
In matters of deep speculation.

So fast - for the rage what can stop -
This keen influenza is growing,
When piece-meal the earth is cut up,
To keep speculation a-going;
Their plans will extend, I'll be bound
(Whoe'er the assertion may rail at),
To the moon , soon as Herschel has found
A half-way house just to regale at.

Whilst schemers their wishes to crown,
For shares take a rapid excursion,
Our plan, when the sun has gone down,
Is to share in the evening's diversion;
Their nests, by the cast of a die,
However so well some may feather,
True friendship of life to enjoy
Is to meet and be happy together.

From the collection of Roy Palmer as printed in ‘Canal Songs’ by Jon Raven.

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